English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Coursera / Duke} – Annotated Bibliography contribution

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

Annotated Bibliography contribution

Area of Expertise: Video games (World of Warcraft)

  •  Donovan, Tristan. Replay: The History of Video Games. Lewes, East Sussex: Yellow Ant Publications. 2010. Print

A staggering 500 page tome (350 of which is the actual material), which elaborately portrays the advent and progression of video game industry from Atari consoles to computer animated latest products (2010). It features international case studies of the gaming communities and habits around the world (Asia among others) as well as a detailed description of how various game genres came to life.

The narrative is deemed quite personal and often takes the form of interview memoirs. While the historical documentation is extremely detailed – dating back to 1945 – the game trends of the 21st century are somewhat “rushed” along the book’s final chapters among with emerging popular game franchises.

Overall it’s an interesting addition to a gamer’s library, especially if one is interested in the gaming industry’s past and how it all began.

A word from the author:

I chose video game in preference to other terms for several reasons: it remains in everyday use, unlike TV game or electronic game; it is broad enough to encompass the entire medium unlike ‘computer game’, which would exclude games, such as Atari’s Pong, that did not use microprocessors; and terms such as ‘interactive entertainment’, while more accurate, have failed to catch on despite repeated attempts over the years.”


  • Gutiérrez, Mario, Thalmann, Daniel, Vexo, Frédéric. Stepping into Virtual Reality. Lausanne: Springer-Verlag London Limited. 2008. Print

Mostly described as a technical guidebook for students, this entry rather resembles an introduction to virtual environment design. Ample examples in conjunction with color illustrations exhibit the fundamentals of creating an immersive virtual world. Chapters include architecture of augmented virtual reality systems, avatar creation, touch, smell and taste simulation as well as a reference to visuals (e.g. LCD / Plasma displays) and audio.

To sum up, this qualifies for a decent 101 on virtual reality basics and technical infrastructure.

A word from the authors:

“This work was conceived as a guided tour that will give a practical explanation

of each step in the process of creating a Virtual Reality application. It can

be used both as a textbook for a Virtual Reality course and as a reference for

courses covering computer graphics, computer animation, or human-computer

interaction topics.


  • Hunter, Dan, Werbach, Kevin. For the Win: How GAME THINKING Can Revolutionize Your Business. Philadelphia: Wharton Digital Press. 2012. Print

I came across “For the Win” during a MOOC course called “Gamification” on the Coursera platform. Kevin Werbach is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania; together with Dan Hunter they showcase an academic background in law as well as research of virtual worlds. “Gamification” was the very first course of its kind to be offered in academia (The Wharton School) and this book summarizes the main ideas behind the term. Interestingly, thinking as a game designer was not only meant for people within the gaming industry. Game elements, when applied to non-game context can make your business – or any other sector – a better place (for employees and clients alike). The book features gamified websites and examples of gamified services as well as a thorough approach of what kind of game elements one should seek to implement in order to make this endeavor work.

I should mention that both writers were players of World of Warcraft (Horde side) and draw comparisons from many popular games of our time.

From the writers’ note on the title:

““For the win,” or FTW for short, is a gamer term believed to be derived from old-school TV game shows like Hollywood Squares, in which a player could win the game with a correct answer. It’s used as an endorsement of a tool or practice that will lead to success in any context. As in: “Daily exercise FTW!” We find it an appropriate moniker. Gamification is a technique that businesses can use to be more successful. We hope you will use this book to help your business win in whatever ways you choose.”


  • Bainbridge, William Sims. The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World. London: MIT Press. 2010. Print.

Bainbridge takes on the most popular MMO RPG (massive open online role playing game) in its peak, namely the Lich King Expansion years. His account is suitable for Argent Dawn EU server players: the role playing lot. Now when one finds oneself in Azeroth chances are you will explore, quest, raid, kill many many – seriously many – mobs; not many choose to role play, because it takes a lot of creativity, effort, practice and imagination – you ‘ve run out of those while killing the many, many oh so many mobs, if you recall.

Bainbridge’s review of the game derives – as the title so hints – from a social perspective, but what he means by that is highly contestable. Sociology is one thing, attempting an explanation of the WoW social universe is a complete other.  The book is divided into small chapters, each focusing on separate elements of the game such as religion or cooperation. The introductory roleplaying story lines are intuitive and strongly supported by lore details. After each one, an explicatory section ensues, where things are theoretically approached. The author often gives the impression of an outsider rather than an actual WoW gamer, since his lack of understanding how the game community actually works in non – lorewise manner is baffling.

It should be noted that in-game problems such as character meetup in different servers and dungeon / raid grouping have been dealt with by Blizzard ever since the Cataclysm expansion. Thus, it’s an interesting reading option for the game’s old- timers; at times a beautiful journal even.

From the author’s take on “ganking” [Chapter 5: p. 134]:

“Wanton killing of another player’s character is ganking. Maxrohn experienced ganking firsthand when he was around level 40 at a crossroads in the Swamp of Sorrows. A level-37 Horde scout was standing there, barring the way, so rather than go around, Maxrohn attacked him. This had the effect of turning Maxrohn’s battle flag on, rendering him vulnerable to attack by Horde players. Unfortunately, the crossroads was between the Horde flight path at Stonard and the entry to the high level Blasted Lands zone. Just as Maxrohn was bending down to loot the scout’s corpse, a high-level Horde player killed him instantly. His last memory of the episode is the Horde player’s laughter.”


One comment on “English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Coursera / Duke} – Annotated Bibliography contribution

  1. Pingback: Portfolio Cover Letter – English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Duke / Coursera} | mysteries of the (spider) web queen

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